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We get it: keeping a budget can be difficult at times.
But it doesn’t have to be.
This is because thanks to the invention of technology, specific apps have been created to help us keep track and manage our budget.
Instead of getting flustered about where your money is going, this article is going to show you the top 10 best budgeting apps for your smartphone to help you save money.
See one that’s not on the list and should be? Let us know in the comments below.
1. Stash: Invest. Learn. Save.
Stash is a budgeting app that was created in 2015, so it is relatively new. Stash is one of the best budgeting apps because it is more of a learn as you go app. This means they will literally walk you through every detail and all the steps.
This handholding makes the whole saving money thing a lot less painless. Stash helps you build up your money over time by making investments that you feel comfortable about. Stash is used by millions of Americans, so you can trust their encryption is up to date. This means that all of your information will stay safe.
You can invest your money in all different kinds of stocks and ETFs that will make up your portfolio. Stash does not use robo-advisors. So, the money in your account can be invested into whatever you choose and will not just be thrown around automatically.
Build your profile up by first starting with a blank slate. You then add in your age and investing goals. Based on certain factors, Stash assess your risk level. They will help guide you toward smarter decisions. All you need to start your account is five dollars. Stash is definitely the perfect app for beginners.
2. Mint: Personal Finance & Money
Mint is one of the best budgeting apps used today. It is one of the simplest apps for managing your money and seeing all the places your money goes. Sometimes, it is easy to spend money because you do not notice where exactly all your money is going.
Seeing it all lined up in front of you can make things easier. Mint is completely free and super easy to set up. You will easily be able to connect to almost every financial institution in the United States.
Do not be worried about lag time or entering anything manually because Mint keeps everything up to date and does everything manually. But, you do have the option to enter manual alerts.
These alerts will go off to remind you that you have a bill due coming up soon. This will help keep you on track. These alerts will also let you know if one of your accounts are getting low.
Your credit card purchases will automatically be calculated in. However, you will have to enter in all cash transactions. This can be done quickly and easily in the app.
If you are planning a larger purchase, you can do a test run and see how it will impact your overall funds. Our favorite part is that Mint uses helpful graphs. These graphs show you exactly what you are spending your money on and help you keep track of your savings.
3. Acorns: Invest Spare Change
Acorns is one of the best apps for budgeting because it easily invests your spare change. Similar to Stash, you can get started with as little as five dollars. The additional fee of one dollar a month is the same as Stash, as well.
Signing up is easy. This can be done online or through the app. However, the app will eventually be needed because that is where you manage everything. All you have to do is answer a few basic questions.
Basically, you will answer about your investment goals and how much risk you are comfortable with. Different from Stash, after you answer the questions, Acorns gives you five different portfolio options to choose from.
These options are curated by Dr. Harry Markowitz, who is a prize winning economist. You then just send over your five dollars and that is it.
You could also set up recurring automatic investments. Acorns takes the spare change accumulated on your cards and once it has reached a five dollar threshold, it invests it. The best part? It is free for students!
4. YNAB (You Need A Budget)
YNAB is one of the simplest apps around to make a budget. It is a budgeting app, similar to Mint, that will help you track your spending. YNAB is more than just a budgeting app that puts your money into fancy graphs.
They also care about the people they created the app for. They want these people to change long term to be better at budgeting. So, they created the YNAB method.
- Do not let any dollar go unnoticed. Every dollar has a purpose. When you receive an influx of cash or just your regular income, tell yourself the places where you need that money to go. This will help prevent you from spending the money on things you do not need. It helps keep your priorities straight.
- Do not be afraid of high expenses. A thousand dollars can sometimes look frightening. But, if it is broken down into ten monthly payments, then it is not so bad after all.
- Do not beat yourself up if you happen to overspend one month. Use it as a learning experience and use the tools provided to make changes to your budget.
- YNAB’s goal is to have people stop living paycheck to paycheck. They want people to be able to make that paycheck last well into the next month. Eventually, you may get to the point where that is happening if you are budgeting wisely.
When you sign up and make your profile, one of the first things you will fill out is your “Immediate Obligations” category. This would be your car payment, mortgage, student loan, food, etc.
You have the option of connecting your credit card or entering everything in manually. You can then use three different YNAB reports to check on your spending habits.
There is the spending report, the net worth report, and the income versus expenses report. You can also use these reports to set goals for yourself within the app. You have the option from a monthly goal or a set goal. Unfortunately, YNAB is not free. But, it does offer a 34 day free trial!
5. Mvelopes: Budgeting App
Mvelopes is one of the best budgeting apps because it used an old school tried and true method. If you have never heard of the envelope method, let us explain. It works by separating your budget into individual categories, such as clothes and groceries.
You take envelopes and label them with your categories. Then, you decide how much money to give yourself for those categories per month. When the money is gone, you stop spending in that category.
Mvelopes works similarly. It is the modern equivalent that allows you to hook up your debit and credit cards. You create virtual envelopes and fill them to your likely. Of course, you may not know what to put in them right away.
You can always monitor and make sure you stay down on overspending. Mvelopes gives you the option to set money saving goals. You can set up these goals when you initially set up your monthly budget, but you can feel free to edit them. It is easily linkable to bank accounts, cards, and even PayPal.
This is perfect if you want to view everything all in one place.
6. Goodbudget: Budget Planner
Similar to Mvelopes and the good ‘ole envelope system, is Goodbudget. It was formerly known as Easy Envelope Budget Aid. For initial signup, all you need is an email address and password.
This app is based off the old method of creating envelopes and setting aside money each money for certain categories written on the envelopes. Goodbudget is nice to use because it gives you the basic envelopes already created for you, except virtual of course.
Then you have the option to add more envelopes. This could be envelopes for a trip, vacation, or new car. You will have to start your account by adding an income and linking an account.
You can use a checking account, savings account, credit card, or cash. After you spend your money, log into your account so you can log the transaction and pull from your envelope. Let’s just say you spent fifty dollars on clothes at Target. Log into the app. Add the transaction.
You will want to type in the name of the store and the amount you spent (fifty dollars). Then, the app will deduct the fifty dollars from your overall monthly spending allowance for clothes.
Each “envelope” is represented more in a bar graph form and is easy to view how much money you have remaining in each category. You can also view it in a pie chart version. This app helps you put your spending into perspective. There is a free version and a premium version available!
7. Clarity Money: Budget Manager
Clarity Money works by displaying your financial picture. Just as their name suggests, they believe in everything being as transparent as possible. They believe this will help their app users in the long run with managing their finances.
The app is relatively new and picked up ground earlier this year. The founder is Adam Dell, who is the brother of computer brand creator Michael Dell. You can easily hook your accounts up to Clarity Money and using their custom designed system, analyze your transactions.
They then make suggestions on how to improve your spending and saving. But, not only that, you can take action on their suggestions right through the app. One of these actions is their premiere Bill Negotiation & Lowering feature you can click on.
This means that you give Clarity Money permission to haggle on your behalf, to help you lower bills or cancel some pesky recurring charges. They do this simply by doing extensive research and finding discounts or coupons for you to use.
If they find you a discount, they do keep some of it as commission. You can set up expense categories and put a limit on these. If you are getting close to going over, Clarity Money will send you an alert. You can easily transfer money within the app.
They are also partnered up with free credit score agencies, so you get the bonus of checking your credit score for free anytime you wish. They help you find credit cards with lower interest rates and that may work better for you.
They also lay everything out in a sleek and easy to navigate way. With Clarity Money, it is easy to revamp your spending and saving habits.
8. Fudget: Budget Planner Tracker
Fudget was founded by Danny Connell. He created Fudget to give consumers an easy way to create a budget and maintain it by using several key features. Danny Connell is a developer with over eight years of experience under his belt.
Fudget is actually modeled off of his Microsoft Excel spreadsheets he created for his own person budget. Fudget is for someone who does not necessarily want a fancy app with all the gadgets and gizmos, but a simplified and basic version that eliminates that steep learning curve.
Fudget allows you to create simple lists of income and expenses and displays the balance at the bottom.
Once you download the app, you will be taken through five super quick and easy tutorials. The tutorials show you how to create a new budget, open a budget, star an entry, reorder entries, and open your settings. As you can probably tell, most of these will be pretty self-explanatory.
There is no need to link any bank accounts to Fudget. You just simply tap: Add Budget.
After that, you can add income and expenses within your budget. You can then view your budget in pie form. If you are new to the budgeting app world, since Fudget is free and extremely easy to use, it might be a good place to start.
9. Joy: Money App
Joy is definitely a different money saving app and we think it is one of the best budgeting app. Here is why. Happy Money released their new app Joy in late 2017. Joy does not just use pie charts and graphs as its basis, it also focuses on the psychology behind saving money.
The company behind Joy wants to bring awareness on how saving is directly linked to people’s happiness. Joy has two main functions. These functions are rating your spending and saving money. Sounds simple enough, right? So, what is exactly is rating your spending?
After you have connected your bank account and cards, Joy automatically adds in all your transactions after they happen. These transactions can then be rated with a happy or a sad face.
The objective of rating your purchases is to help you better see first hand which purchases you are happy about making and which ones you wish you did not. The goal by the company is that eventually a user would be mostly making spending decisions they are happy about.
The Joy app also has the saving money feature. Each day that you login, the Joy app will prompt you to save money to an insured account within the app. They use a specific algorithm to decide the amount of money they think you should stash away.
This is the company’s way of trying to get users to get into the habit of saving money. Joy also features very bright colors and a friendly little robot.
10. Digit: Save Money Effortlessly
Digit is a handy little app that tracks your spending to calculate how much money you will have for saving. It makes automatic withdrawals from checking into your savings. Simple! The basics behind is to to encourage you to save money, by showing you how easy it is to save.
You may not even notice the app taking amounts from your checking, highlighting how easy it is to save. You go about your finances as usual and the app skims and places it into your savings. This means this app does not require you to actually change your behavior.
If you choose not to manually enter in any savings, then the app will choose very small amounts. But, something is better than nothing! Digit does not just go pulling money out willy nilly. Digit analyzes your spending habits first and decides when and where it is safe to pull some money out.
It bases its own habits off of four key factors. These factors are your spending habits, upcoming bills, upcoming income, and checking account balances. Transfers into your savings usually occur twice a week on average. Digit is not able to be connected to your credit card directly.
Digit supports more than 7,000 financial institutions.
Budgeting is more than just a one-step process. It will be more than just downloading an app. However, downloading one of these top budget apps would undoubtedly be a step in the right direction.
We know that not all budgets are created equal. When searching for a budget app, there may be some things you want to consider. We created a short list of these items. So, when you are searching for your new app, you can determine which one will be the best fit for you.
This feature might not be laid out right away. But, some apps connect all your forms of spending and saving. However, some other apps will not. Or, they may have the option to connect or the option to enter in manually.
They may also allow you to connect your bank accounts, but not your cards. If you have a lot of bank accounts or cards, we recommend going with an automated option versus a manual option. This will save you time.
Manual Versus Automated
Do you want an app that syncs automatically with your accounts? Do you want an app that tracks your spending on its own? Do you want an app that will automatically put money into your savings?
If you answered yes, then we recommend apps with the automatic feature. However, like we mentioned above, if you do not have a lot of credit cards or your spending habits are not as frequent, then you may benefit from the manual option. Manual entering is also easier to understand and great for beginners.
This is not all just about colors. However, apps that have a great color scheme tend to be easier to use. This is also about how well the app is setup. If you are a beginner in the budget or app world even, you will want to be wary of apps that look overly complicated and have a lot of features.
These features might be hard to understand at first. A simplified version of these apps may be more what you are looking for.
Budgeting is made easy with these top budgeting apps. We love when apps truly care about their users and helping them develop better overall habits. Taking little steps at first, even just downloading an app onto your phone, can help change your budgeting life forever!